Despite some reservations about the cost of keeping him for a while longer and questions about searching for a new permanent city manager, the Deltona City Commission March 6 ratified a new contract for Interim City Manager Jim Chisholm.
The vote was unanimous, as commissioners agreed to retain Chisholm as city manager for another year, while recruiting his replacement continues. Commissioners hinted Chisholm, in fact, may help a new permanent manager to become acquainted with his/her new responsibilities in the fast-growing city.
“I need a date and time certain that we are looking for a permanent city manager,” City Commissioner Dana McCool said.
Key points in the contract are:
— Chisholm will receive an annual salary of $200,000.
— The city “shall pay the full premium for full health, dental and vision coverage for the city manager and his wife,” the contract reads.
— Chisholm will receive a city-owned vehicle, with no restrictions on personal use. The city will also provide fuel, repairs, maintenance and insurance for the vehicle.
— Deltona will make contributions to a private pension fund for Chisholm.
— Chisholm has received 80 hours of personal time off “effective upon the effective date of this Agreement,” which was March 6.
— While working as Deltona’s city manager is to be his primary occupation, Chisholm is free to teach, write or offer professional consultation on his “time off so long as such activities are not in conflict with the interest of the CITY or interfere with the city manager’s performance under this Agreement,” the contract reads.
Critics of the contract objected to the lack of the specific costs of the benefits given to Chisholm. No numbers were given for the health coverage, car expenses and retirement.
During public-comment time, Deltona resident Brandy White urged the commission to table action on the agreement, without first obtaining the actual figures of the cost of the benefits, as well as the salary.
“It’s an uninformed vote. You don’t have the information needed,” she said.
The Beacon also requested information about the city’s estimated total cost of the contract, but thus far a response has not been forthcoming.
In any event, Vice Mayor Anita Bradford moved to approve the contract, and City Commissioner Jody Lee Storozuk seconded the motion. The vote was 7-0.
Chisholm was selected in October to run the biggest city in Volusia County for six months, following the commission’s sudden vote to oust former Acting City Manager John Peters in September. Chisholm, formerly the city manager of Daytona Beach, came out of retirement to take the reins of Deltona’s government. When he took the Deltona job, he said he was not interested in applying for the permanent position. He did offer, however, to aid Deltona in searching for a permanent manager.
Although city officials had previously set a March 3 deadline for applying for permanent city manager, Chisholm said the time for applying has not yet expired.
“We have not stopped advertising,” he told the City Commission. “We are still receiving applicants.”
More than two dozen people have thus far applied to be Deltona’s next city manager.
City Commissioner Storozuk, who last month suggested the commission keep Chisholm for at least another year, said his, Chisholm’s, presence has enabled Deltona to begin working on infrastructure deficiencies, such as stormwater control and streets. In addition, Chisholm’s ability and experience have brought a welcome change to the city.
“We’re having some stability,” Storozuk said. “It’s a novel idea to have some stability.”
“He knows more about running a city than all of us put together,” he later added.
“Let’s give clear, concise direction,” Mayor Santiago Avila Jr. told his colleagues, prior to the vote on the contract with Chisholm.
In a separate but related action, the Deltona City Commission named Marsha Segal-George as city attorney.
Segal-George was on the short list of three applicants for the post that she has effectively held for several months. She is a partner in the Orlando law firm of Fowler, O’Quinn, Feeney & Sneed. The firm has provided legal services to Deltona’s government for several years. Although the firm as a whole is exiting as the city’s legal agency, Segal-George will be Deltona’s chief legal officer.
The City Commission voted Dec. 12 to end Deltona’s relationship with the full firm at the urging of City Commissioner Jody Lee Storozuk. Storozuk said the firm’s billings were too high, and the commission went along with his call to give the firm 90 days’ notice of termination. March 12 is the end date for Fowler et al.
Segal-George was the lowest bidder to become Deltona’s city attorney. She offered to work for $150 per hour.
The other two firms seeking to give legal services to Deltona’s government were Cobb Cole and Fishback Dominick. Cobb Cole’s attorneys offered to work for $390 an hour, while Fishback Dominick’s lawyers were willing to work for an hourly rate of $250.
Both the city attorney and the city manager are charter officers, meaning they are directly appointed by the City Commission and serve at the elected governing body’s pleasure. The city attorney and manager are the only two municipal employees who report directly to the commission.